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Tag: Sir Simon Rattle

UNICEF concert for Japan with Simon Rattle and Daniel Barenboim 2011 1080p WEB-DL AAC2.0 H.264-CHDWEB

Both the Berliner Philharmoniker and the Staatskapelle Berlin have been regular guests in Japan for many years and have many friends among the country’s music enthusiasts. Following the devastating earthquake and the nuclear disaster at Fukushima in March 2011, the two orchestras gave a joint benefit concert for the victims a few weeks later, with Sir Simon Rattle and Daniel Barenboim conducting.

All proceeds from the concert and from the live webcast in the Digital Concert Hall went to the UNICEF emergency fund in Japan. As Ken Hayami from the Japan Committee for UNICEF said, following the earthquake, the tsunami and the nuclear power plant disaster, UNICEF’s top priority was to help traumatised children in the affected areas as quickly and effectively as possible. With this concert, the musicians wanted to help them in their efforts.

To open the concert, the Staatskapelle Berlin and Daniel Barenboim perform Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony Pathétique. In addition to its concert activities, the Staatskapelle, whose history goes back to 1570, is the orchestra of the Staatsoper in Berlin. Daniel Barenboim has been general music director of the Staatskapelle since 1992. The Berliner Philharmoniker and chief conductor Sir Simon Rattle end the concert with a performance of Brahms’s Fourth Symphony. The orchestra has been an international UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador since 2007.

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The Highest Level꞉ Lang Lang with the Berliner Philharmoniker 1080p WEB-DL AAC2.0 H.264-CHDWEB

When the Berliner Philharmoniker, Sir Simon Rattle and Lang Lang came together for their first joint recording in April 2013, expectations were high. Not only because the musicians are among the best in their field, but also because they had chosen a challenging as well as exciting repertoire: Béla Bartók’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and Sergei Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto. In our documentary The Highest Level, you can be witness to this summit meeting and with extensive behind-the-scenes footage, follow the making of a great recording.

The film is many things at once. Firstly, it is a portrait of the artists, in which one comes close to the orchestra, conductor and soloist. We learn a lot about their fundamental view of music, and how they find their way to a joint interpretation. About Prokofiev’s concerto, Simon Rattle says, “It goes without saying that it’s extraordinarily difficult and virtuosic to play, and it’s an amazingly splashy display piece, but with many moments of delicacy and beauty.” This is precisely one of the major challenges of this recording project: how to reconcile the explosive with the lyrical in these works.

From the piano, Lang Lang readily explains how he overcomes the physical pitfalls of the works. Furthermore, the viewer can follow the many steps of a recording. We see how Simon Rattle and Lang Lang hone their interpretation, both in the recording studio and on the podium. And we learn from the sound engineer how to get the best possible, authentic sound recording. The film makes it clear that the creation of great art is based not least on a perfect balance of inspiration and hard work.

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Orchestra Academy of the Berliner Philharmoniker – Schubert’s “Winterreise” with Christian Elsner and Simon Rattle 2014 1080p WEB-DL AAC2.0 H.264-CHDWEB

Many composers, such as Berlioz, Liszt, Brahms and Britten, have composed orchestral versions of individual Schubert Lieder. The first to dare to arrange the entire cycle of Schubert’s crowning work Winterreise for chamber ensemble, however, was Hans Zender in the last years of the 20th century: “My ‘reading’ of the Winterreise,” the German composer and conductor wrote, “does not look for a new expressive interpretation, but rather systematically makes use of freedoms that all interpreters normally allow themselves intuitively: stretching or compressing the tempo, transposition to other keys, bringing out characteristic nuances of colour.”

In this arrangement, which delights even purists, the original vocal part remains to a large extent untouched, while the approach to the piano voice hovers between “orchestration” and “revised version” and turns out differently from one song to the next: while in “Lindenbaum”, for instance, Zender restricted himself to distributing the existing notes across the instruments he selected, other lieder are more beholden to Gustav Mahler’s fin-de-siècle inflection or Alban Berg’s Expressionism. By highlighting these and other lines of tradition, Zender’s Winterreise sets free moments that are inherent in Schubert’s music but remain hidden below the classical surface. In this extremely successful Late Night performance of the Winterreise under the direction of Sir Simon Rattle, students of the Berliner Philharmoniker’s Orchestra Academy accompany the tenor soloist, Christian Elsner.

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Orchestra Academy of the Berliner Philharmoniker – “Late Night” concert with Simon Rattle and Magdalena Kozena 2017 1080p WEB-DL AAC2.0 H.264-CHDWEB

“I wished to transcribe Mallarmé’s poetry into music,” Maurice Ravel professed in his Autobiographical Sketch, “especially that preciosity so full of meaning and so characteristic of him. ‘Surgi de la croupe et du bond’ is the strangest, if not the most hermetic of his sonnets.” And in fact in 1913 the composer did set Trois Poèmes de Stéphane Mallarmé to music; “Surgi de la croupe et du bond” is the third in the series, and the musical rendering proves utterly on a par with the poem’s word magic. Together with members of the Orchestra Academy of the Berliner Philharmoniker conducted by Sir Simon Rattle, Magdalena Kožená present Ravel’s rarely heard song cycle, in which tonality sometimes ceases to apply.

The evening concludes with two compositions by Luciano Berio: the no less virtuoso Sequenza III for female voice, and Laborintus II for voices, instruments and tape, a work that can be presented as a theatrical event, tale, allegory, documentation, dance play, etc.

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Orchestra Academy of the Berliner Philharmoniker – “Late Night” concert with Simon Rattle and a new masterpiece 2013 1080p WEB-DL AAC2.0 H.264-CHDWEB

Georg Friedrich Haas set out early on to follow in the footsteps of Ivan Wyschnegradsky and Alois Hábas by grappling with microtonal music. “I became aware early,” says the composer, who was born in Graz in 1953, “that every pitch that the piano offers me, to put it in bold terms, does not constitute the totality of musically reasonable, usable pitches.”

The sensual allure of the varied sound, experimentation with overtone harmonies, and layering of acoustic beats are central moments with which Haas creates his magical worlds of sound – a kind of music about which one can hardly believe it is not produced with electronic instruments. Even the “normally” tempered beginning of his ensemble piece in vain from 2000 is almost imperceptibly overlaid by partial tones, giving rise very gradually to a fascinating counter-world to the uniform semi-tones of the usual tempered tuning system.

For the students of the Berliner Philharmoniker’s Orchestra Academy who are being led to unfamiliar territory, performing the work amounts to a special challenge. But the audience too can no longer refer to familiar listening coordinates – particularly because Haas repeatedly creates fluctuating sound spirals which mislead you tonally. The result is music from many perspectives that in some sense resembles the images of M. C. Escher – one has only to think of those staircases where the upper and the lower ends are connected to each other.

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Orchestra Academy of the Berliner Philharmoniker – “40 Years of the Orchestra Academy” Gala Concert with Simon Rattle 2012 1080p WEB-DL AAC2.0 H.264-CHDWEB

Former students of the Orchestra Academy can be found everywhere, whether in the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Orchestre de Radio France, the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, the Staatskapelle Berlin, the Vienna and Munich Philharmonic orchestras – and of course the Berliner Philharmoniker. “Learn from the pros” is the motto of the Academy. Founded in 1972 and funded by private donors, highly talented young musicians are taught by members of the Berliner Philharmoniker and are prepared for the life of professional orchestral musicians. A commitment that bears abundant fruit: About a quarter of the members of the Berliner Philharmoniker today are former students of the Academy.

To mark the anniversary, Sir Simon Rattle conducts an orchestra of former and current students who came together for one day only to perform Anton Bruckner’s Eighth Symphony. The orchestra’s foundation, Stiftung Berliner Philharmoniker, presented the Academy with a new work for its birthday by the British composer Benedict Mason, a riveting introduction to the Bruckner whose world premiere the current and ex-students also perform.

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Members of Berlin school orchestras – Simon Rattle conducts Berlin school orchestras 2017 1080p WEB-DL AAC2.0 H.264-CHDWEB

The United States of America may have caught up with the musical nations of Europe relatively late, but it more than made up for it in the music of the twentieth century. The 2017 Berliner Philharmoniker school orchestra extravaganza focused on works “from the New World”. For the 15th edition of the Education project, more than 100 pupils from six Berlin secondary schools gathered in the Philharmonie under the direction of none other than Sir Simon Rattle, chief conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker.

The extravaganza opened with a rousing dance from Leonard Bernstein’s immortal West Side Story, with the shouts of “Mambo” which are incorporated in the score also being chanted by the audience. The programme also featured a work by John Adams, the Berliner Philharmoniker’s Composer in Residence in the 2017/2018 season. The composer, who was present in the hall, was able to see for himself how much enthusiasm and passion the young musicians displayed in his brief but extremely sophisticated Short Ride in a Fast Machine.

As a lyrical counterpoint to the up-tempo pieces by Bernstein and Adams, they then played the slow movement from Antonín Dvořák’s Ninth Symphony whose theme, first introduced by the cor anglais, is one of the Czech composer’s most lovely ideas. A longing for adventure and a not inconsiderable fee lured Dvořák to New York in 1892, and his three years in America were to prove to be unusually productive. The collaboration of Sir Simon with the school orchestras, documented for the Digital Concert Hall, gives a fascinating insight into the way the conductor works in rehearsal: how he explains the importance of the clearly articulated rhythm in the Adams piece, the way he shows how softly a pianissimo can sound, and during all this, he even gets the instrumentalists to sing.

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Members of Berlin school orchestras – Simon Rattle conducts Berlin school orchestras 2014 720p WEB-DL AAC2.0 H.264-CHDWEB

Many young musicians dream of having the chance to play once in their lives in the Berlin Philharmonie. For the participants of our School Orchestra Extravaganza, this is a dream that regularly comes true. Led by members of the Berliner Philharmoniker, the different instrumental groups work on pieces which they then finally all rehearse together – under the direction of no less than chief conductor Sir Simon Rattle.

In November 2014, the programme included a very special repertoire: three film scores that probably everyone knows. Elmer Bernstein’s The Magnificent Seven was followed by the adventures of Indiana Jones and finally, the science fiction tale of E.T., the extra-terrestrial. It is particularly fascinating to see what linguistic images Sir Simon uses to inspire the young musicians – such as when he warns the brass not to fall into an “Oktoberfest” style.

But this rehearsal with Simon Rattle is not the end of the extravaganza: Selected Berlin school orchestras then show their impressive skills under the direction of their music teachers. The finale is provided by our education programme’s Creative Orchestra whose members not only play film music, but have developed their own soundtracks – an always original and often tongue-in-cheek treatment of this fascinating genre.

The programme is presented by Sarah Willis, horn player of the Berliner Philharmoniker, and Malte Arkona, who is known among other things as a presenter on the German children’s TV channel, KiKa.

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Members of Berlin school orchestras – Simon Rattle conducts Berlin school orchestras 2013 1080p WEB-DL AAC2.0 H.264-CHDWEB

The School Orchestra Extravaganzas of the Berliner Philharmoniker’s education programme are always a big event, and this year’s meeting in February was no different. Six Berlin school orchestras had rehearsed excerpts from Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suites for the big day under the guidance of members of the Berliner Philharmoniker, and the conductor of the public performance in the Philharmonie was none other than Sir Simon Rattle.

After each orchestra had been presented to the audience under the direction of their music teacher, they all came together on the stage for the big finale Peer Gynt: a record-breaking orchestra of over 200 musicians. This was when things got really exciting: to see and hear how this huge ensemble of students of all ages who had never played together grow more and more together. Of course, this was also thanks to the Philharmoniker’s chief conductor who not only worked on their precision but also their expression (“Don’t let it sound too much like God Save the Queen!”). But this morning in the Philharmonie was also a new experience for Simon Rattle: As he admitted, he had never conducted the Peer Gynt music before.

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Living with Beethoven 720p WEB-DL AAC2.0 H.264-CHDWEB

In addition to finding the “hidden treasures” of the music, the focus of the work of the Berliner Philharmoniker and its chief conductor Sir Simon Rattle is still the constant renewed examination of the symphonic tradition – from Haydn to Mahler, from Brahms to Lutosławski. In a sense, what lies at the heart of this examination are the nine symphonies of Ludwig van Beethoven which have been closely linked to the orchestra’s history from its very beginnings. After a first complete performance with Sir Simon in 2008 when the nine works were juxtaposed by the compositions of Anton Webern, “pure Beethoven” followed in the 2015/2016 season, with the complete cycle being given in Berlin, Vienna, Paris, New York and Tokyo. It is now available as an audio recording, and video recordings – like the complete performances of Rattle’s predecessors Herbert von Karajan and Claudio Abbado – are available in the Digital Concert Hall.

Beethoven perfected the genre of the symphony which was still new in his time and, with the choral finale of the Ninth to Schiller’s “Ode to Joy” – brought it to its first conclusion. The expression ranges from unfathomable despair to irrepressible wit to the evocation of human love and brotherhood. Programmatic aspects such as in the “Eroica” and the “Pastorale” meet the visionary mastery of the compositional principles of absolute music.

Daniel Finkernagel and Magdalena Zięba-Schwind accompanied the ascent of this symphonic “Mount Everest” (Rattle), the rehearsals, concert performances and recordings. Their film Living with Beethoven gives a fascinating insight into the work of the Berliner Philharmoniker. Rattle illustrates some passages on the piano, members of the orchestra talk about their experiences of previous performances and show how their individual voice is integrated into the overall sound. “Beethoven fever” can be felt in all of them, and everyone is inspired by the desire to make the often performed works sound again as if they were just written.

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